Celebration of Life for Jerry Neff Sunday, August 5th from 2:00-5:00 pm
Palmer Hills Retirement Community 2617 Maplecrest Road, Bettendorf, Iowa
Park in the Genesis lot next door In lieu of flowers, please send donations to:
Sierra Club Eagle View Group P.O. Box 239 Pleasant Valley, Iowa 52767-0239.
Jerry unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, July 22, 2018. Jerry’s sense of humor, love of the outdoors and dedication to care for the earth are evident in his own words from these excerpts that I found in an Eagle View Group blog and a Quad Cities Times interview. Fond memories and reflections of knowing Jerry follow.
Eagle View Group Blog:
The year was 1981. Ronald Reagan had just taken over the Oval Office. James Watt was the Secretary of the Interior and environmentalists were quite unhappy. So one day I found a letter in my mailbox inviting me to join the Sierra Club. I had heard of this bunch from California who were really into mountaineering and were big time environmentalists…The timing was right and … I signed up. Since there were no meetings or events in our area, I was one of the many members we call “inactive”. Maybe it was because I was inactive that I was at home that day when a knock on the door interrupted my inactivity! It was my young neighbor from about a block away, Mark Henderson, telling me that the Sierra Club was having an organizational meeting to start a club in the Quad Cities. The next week we met in the Davenport library and the Eagle View Group was born.
*Since the newly created Eagle View Group met in the Davenport library, Jerry, was never an “inactive member” again! During the next 37 years Jerry’s involvement included: many years of chairing Eagle View Group, a Sierra Club Iowa Chapter executive board member, an outings chair leading hikes and organizing river cleanups, and on the national Sierra Club committee to end commercial logging in the national forests.
Quad Cities Times:
QCT: What does community involvement mean to you?
Jerry: PARTICIPATION, getting dirty at Xstream Cleanup or asking your mayor to sign on to Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Plan, or educating your own kids on the basics of camping…it all benefits the community, sooner or later.
QCT: I knew I had made a difference as an individual in the community when …
Jerry: I knew I made a difference as an individual in the community when I received River Action’s Eddy Award for environmental stewardship.
QCT: Mom would have been proud of me because of this achievement …
Jerry: Being elected chair of the Iowa Chapter Sierra Club and serving as chair of our local Sierra Club group for many years.
*Besides the Eddy Award, Jerry received the Iowa Sierra Club Chapter Distinguished Service Award. Jerry also rode his bike from Pleasant Valley to meet with all of the Quad Cities’ mayors to ask them to join on to Sierra Club’s Cool Cities initiative which promoted clean energy for communities.
Friends of Jerry:
In 1997 I was an “inactive” Sierra Club member until my curiosity motivated me to attend an Eagle View Group meeting. In the Eagle View Group newsletter, I read an article written by some guy who bought a push lawnmower so not to contribute to air pollution! I wanted to meet this person who obviously was a true tree hugger…and I did…and lucky for me … he also became a true friend.
Jerry was a man who lived what he believed; he truly walked his words. He believed in caring for the Earth – the air, land, water, and the trees. He enthusiastically took to heart the Sierra Club motto to Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the planet. Jerry explored mountain ranges from coast to coast; and he helped Quad Citians explore the wonders of our local environment by leading hiking outings over many years. His passion for protecting the planet from greed and abuse led him to oppose all actions that would lead to desecration of the land in our region, pollution of the air we all share, and the pollution of the water with chemicals and plastics, and the acidification of water that accompanies climate change. Jerry did all of this, and so much more, with a positive attitude, and his own special brand of enjoyment and enthusiasm. He was both a good leader and a good team member. It has been a privilege to work alongside Jerry for many years, and to feel uplifted by his commitment and his sense of the outrageous, ridiculous, and humorous. Many of us are better people because of Jerry’s presence in our lives!
Jerry truly walked the talk with passion when it came to enjoying nature, protecting the environment and encouraging others to do the same. He set the example in his own living such as always having a smaller fuel efficient car, adding a passive solar porch to the house, putting in a permeable driveway, riding his bicycle into town or to the post office, and mowing with a manual reel mower.
Not long after I joined the Sierra Club and started going to Eagle View Group program meetings, Jerry and I became friends. It was a joy to take in his positive energy and outlook. Jerry was always planning outdoor adventures and encouraging people to go on them, whether to a local park or farther. He believed that if people are out enjoying nature, they will want to protect it.
Jerry planned the first backpack trip I went on that was in Colorado where we also went to the top of two “14ners”, the 14,000 plus foot high mountains in the lower 48 states. That was the first of many hiking, climbing, and bicycle adventures he planned or recommended we go on and included trips to Wisconsin, California, Wyoming, Montana, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia. Jerry long ago told me you have to keep moving, meaning be active. My life was greatly enriched by knowing Jerry. I will miss my best friend.